Friday, April 3, 2009

Play ball!

Speaking of's time for that summer tradition to renew itself yet again. Opening Day is upon us.

There is no better pastime of summer than a ballgame.

Basketball is fun (especially in Cleveland this season). Football is frenetic. Hockey is insanely entertaining. Soccer is most riveting in Europe. Auto racing is nothing unless it's Formula One. Baseball is most like life. We speak its language every day in metaphor, measure our lives in innings and hope to hit a home run sometimes. It is so deeply ingrained, even the most casual fan gets the allusions. It is part of our national psyche.

And to prove it, many of us who have the delusions of grandeur participate in that most pointless of activities: fantasy baseball.

Like all things American, pretend management of a professional baseball team has actually become a million-dollar business. People actually buy baseball statistics (which are available for free) from websites, magazine publishers, etc., in order to "get the edge" over their fantasy baseball rivals. It is ludicrous and enthralling at the same time.

And I am one of them.

I did spend money to "prepare" for my draft of baseball players, all of whom are real, though I stand as much chance of actually managing them on a team as George W. Bush does of getting a Nobel Prize.

It's become commonplace to play a fantasy league at work, with 12 teams managed by colleagues (the easier to waste time by discussing stats during planning periods), and a draft day on the weekend of Opening Day (so all our injury reports from Spring Training are up to date).

Today was that day. Draft Day. Time to test one's mettle over a few cold barley-pops, all the while trying to outmaneuver the guy or gal picking before you (will he go with the masher or the speedster this round? Is my staff's WHIP better than hers?).

So here it is: My team, now known as Comrade Lenin's Red Stars (history teacher humor there)...

Catcher: Victor Martinez (CLE) a sentimental favorite
1st Base: Derrek Lee ( CHC) on the downside of a career
2nd Base: Orlando Hudson (LAD) seriously?
3rd Base: Evan Longoria (TB) a stud
Short: Stephen Drew (AZ) feh. better than most
Outfield: Ryan Braun (MIL) the uber-stud of the lineup (just stay healthy)
Outfield: Magglio Ordonez (DET) also on the downslope
Outfield: Torii Hunter (ANA) will break in injure himself
DH: Shin-Soo Choo (CLE) potential potential potential
or Chris B Young (AZ) strikeout king, but some power
or Jeff Francoeur (ATL) shoulda' coulda' woulda'
Pitching: Jake Peavey (SD) ace
Yovani Gallardo (MIL) maybe ace
Carlos Zambrano (CHC) headcase former flamethrower
Ted Lilly (CHC) solid
Manny Parra (MIL) maybe
Huston Street (COL) a closer in Colorado? Humidor, please.
Jose Valverde (AZ) solid
and the bench: Ben Francisco (OF-CLE), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (C-TEX), Zach Duke (SP-PIT), Koji Uehara (SP-BAL), Matt LaPorta (AAA-CLE)

Needless to say, the draft did not go well. The investment in time, money, effort and loss of opportunity to be in the scant sunshine of a northeast Ohio spring went for naught by round 2 as the best-laid plans were thwarted--THWARTED, I TELL YOU-- by those who picked my players, MY PLAYERS! Athletes in whom I had invested countless minutes of my precious time, wondering if this was the breakout year for a 27 year-old, or if this was the magical 3rd year for a pitcher.

All for naught.

I will be lucky to win a category, though I may compete in a few.


I love baseball.


Jace said...

Great post Pilgrim! But on top of your own poor grade, YOU DIDN'T GRAB ANY WORLD CHAMP PHILLIES! There are already two hall-of-famers starting in the infield, potentially three; and then there's Cole Hamels, and the best reliever in baseball!?!

pilgrim99 said...

Dude, I TRIED! Utley went right before me one round, then J-Roll coming back. I WAS PISSED (a few beers will do that to ya). But, I have the Phils as one of my preferred teams in my iPhone MLB settings.